The Supreme Court on Friday granted the Andhra Pradesh State Election Commissioner (SEC) a week's time to file an affidavit after being informed of the abuse being faced by High Court judges on social media, for having reinstated retired IAS officer Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar to the office.
Appearing for the SEC, senior advocate Harish Salve apprised the Court of the language used against High Court judges by an officer of the Andhra Government and lashed out at the State for having the "audacity" to seek stay after that.
Salve went on to read a tweet which suggested that "Judges of the AP High Court should be locked up with COVID patients", for having passed such an order.
ON May 29, the Andhra Pradesh High Court had struck down the Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Raj (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, promulgated in April this year, through which the tenure of the SEC was sought to be curtailed from a 5 year term to that of 3 years. Further, through the Ordinance, a judicial officer of the rank of a High Court Judge was to be appointed SEC.
The court had also quashed a subsequent Government Order appointing retired judge V Kanagaraj as the new State Election Commissioner. It had been further ordered that Kumar would be restored as SEC, but that order was not complied with.
On July 8, senior advocate Rakesh Dwidevi appeared for the State of Andhra Pradesh, and apprised the Court of concerns regarding vacancy of the post of SEC.
A Bench headed by CJI SA Bobde, during that hearing had stated that they were inclined to dispose off the matter after a period of 3 weeks from then. "We plan to dispose off the matter in 2-3 weeks. We will not issue any interim orders", informed the CJI on July 8.
Ramesh Kumar, however, had filed a contempt plea in the Andhra Pradesh High Court for non-compliance of its May 29 order, through which the Court had reinstated him as SEC. Upon considering his plea on July 17, the High Court granted Kumar liberty to make a representation of his case before the Governor, Biswa Bhusan Harichandan.
Accordingly, Kumar met with Harichandan on July 20 and subsequently, on July 23, the latter directed to State Government to comply with the High Court's Order and take necessary steps to reinstate the former as SEC.
Both, the Government's plea against the High Court order as well as an application seeking stay of contempt proceedings initiated by Kumar in High Court, were pending before the Supreme Court.
When the matter came up for consideration today, the Bench comprising of Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, in addition to the CJI, were apprised of the developments since the previous hearing. Senior Advocate, SK Ganguly, appeared for Andhra Pradesh and assured that the State will comply with the High Court Order.
However, CJI Bobde marked his displeasure at the non-compliance by the State, and remarked, "the Governor had to intervene to appoint Kumar as SEC after the High Court Judgment! There is a contempt proceeding…What is this?"